Money raised, DHS marching band off to capital
Having raised $65,000, De Soto High School band members will represent the community and the state in a prestigious Memorial Day event in the nation's capital.
The band will spend about 44 hours on a bus to visit Washington, D.C., and play for the National Memorial Day Parade.
De Soto High School band director Justin Love said 87 passengers, including adult chaperones, would be traveling on two buses for the trip.
Last Thursday, the De Soto City Council approved a donation of $1,000 for the trip. Love said the money would benefit a few students without means to pay for the trip.
They'll spend three nights and four days on the trip, including a hotel stop in Silver Spring, Md. The students will visit Arlington National Cemetery, the Smithsonian, Lincoln and Jefferson memorials, Mt. Vernon and other sites.
Junior clarinet player James Ingalls said he's most interested in visiting the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
"I went there when I was about 7, and that was my favorite," he said.
The students will get to see the ceremonies that take place each day at Arlington National Cemetery and lay a wreath on the tomb.
"It's a very special place and very few people get to take part in it," Love said of Arlington. "Some of our most famous Americans, like President Kennedy, his brother, his infant son, the Challenger astronauts and many soldiers are buried there."
Love told the students a week before the trip that carrying a wreath to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is one of America's greatest honors.
Ingalls said he helped all year with car washes, a play-a-thon and other activities to help raise money for the trip.
Lance Williams, a senior percussionist who is returning for the Washington trip, said it would be his first trip to the nation's capital.
"I'm excited about everything," he said. "The parades, the cemetery, the memorials. I've never seen any of those before."
Senior Elizabeth Lowe said she's interested in the Holocaust Museum. Her stepfather's dad once told her family the story of how he was one of the soldiers who helped free prisoners from European concentration camps during World War II.
"He told us the whole story about how awful they were," she said. "I really want to see that."
The Monday parade is not televised except on military television. The students will play "Spirit of America" and an arrangement of "Home on the Range" as they march down the parade route on Pennsylvania Avenue. The band's route will end one block from the White House.
De Soto High School is the only school from Kansas this year to play in the parade. It had to have two recommendations, an invitation and auditions to get the chance to perform.
Senior trumpet player Kenny Price said a visit to the Vietnam Wall Memorial would have special meaning to him.
"I've never been there, but my grandfather's name (Ken Price) is supposed to be on it somewhere," he said.